(Bloomberg) -- More than 100 vultures died after feeding on the carcass of a buffalo that had been intentionally poisoned to bait the critically endangered birds in South Africa’s Kruger National Park this month.

The deaths bring the number of the birds killed in the Greater Kruger area in the country’s northeast to about 600 since January 2019, according to Endangered Wildlife Trust, a conservation body working in southern and eastern Africa. 

Scavenging mammals, including lions, hyenas and leopards are also affected by the poisoned carcasses. Vulture body parts are primarily being used in local traditional medicine because the birds are seen as powerful, Gareth Tate from EWT’s Birds of Prey program said.

“The demand for animal body parts to feed the illegal wildlife trade has led to thousands of vultures being poisoned across Africa, which has devastated populations and is driving them rapidly toward extinction,” EWT said in an emailed statement on Friday. 

Vultures exclusively eat dead animals and help remove pathogens and toxins from the environment by consuming flesh before it decays, according to National Geographic. While their stomachs contain potent acid that destroys many harmful substances, some poisons are too strong.

In the latest incident, 108 of the birds died, including 104 critically endangered White-Backed Vultures. Population estimates show there are only about 7,350 of the species left in southern Africa.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.